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World Cup: Pubs and businesses across Kent cross their fingers for England to go far in the tournament to boost revenues

By Chris Price

It will not just be football fans pinning their hopes on England’s team of hopefuls when the World Cup gets under way in Brazil this month.

“If England go out early then we have got to find ways to get people to come out for the ‘meaningless’ games,” said Kevin Nugent, general manager of the Pembroke pub in Gravesend.

Bars will be allowed to stay open until 1am when England matches kick off at 8pm or later, which covers the team’s opening match against Italy on Saturday, June 14.

England fans will fill pubs across Kent
England fans will fill pubs across Kent

The Pembroke – part of the Stonegate pubs group – will carry offers on drinks like Brazilian beer Brahma during the tournament but is striving to find new ways to keep punters coming through the doors during the planet’s biggest sporting event.

“I’m hoping to get bigger TV screens,” said Kevin, who had hoped to install a new sound system in time for the big kick off today.

“As household screens get bigger people don’t want to come out because they have got a good-size TV at home. If you can build the right atmosphere with a larger screen then people are more likely to come out. I’m trying to get a 60in or drop-down plasma screen.”

The pub industry is an obvious beneficiary from the World Cup but there are opportunities for many types of company.

The flag of St George will be flown
The flag of St George will be flown

“The key is understanding your target audience and how they can be motivated by the World Cup,” said Jane Ollis, chief executive of business growth experts BSK-CIC, who run networking events like Kent 2020 Vision Live, which took place at the Kent Showground, Detling, last month.

“A pub might offer half-price drinks at half-time to attract people in but you don’t have to use the World Cup just to support people who like football.

“You could go completely the other way and host a ladies’ night so they can leave the men at home to watch the game. You can use it to offer something to people who don’t want a football experience.

“But don’t do anything naff. Don’t do anything unless you’ll do it really well.”

The tournament can also be used to send a message about a business’s image. Law firm Whitehead Monckton is hosting a networking evening with a showing of England’s group match against Uruguay.

Gutted: Brazil
Gutted: Brazil

Business development consultant Julie Collier said: “We are using it as an opportunity to entertain professional connections in a slightly different way, rather than a golf day or drinks reception.

“It’s something a little bit different and our way of saying we are slightly different too.”

The firm was established in Maidstone more than 230 years ago. After having a presence in Tenterden for more than 30 years, the company is now putting a lot of effort into promoting itself in Canterbury, where it set up a new office last year.

The networking event is being held at the St George’s Centre in Canterbury Christ Church University.

“Lawyers can be deemed a bit boring and unapproachable,” said Julie. “We like to think we are more modern. That is why we have done the World Cup event. We are being opportunistic.

England won't be reaching for the World Cup this year
England won't be reaching for the World Cup this year

“It gets some people to come who you can’t normally persuade to come to a networking event. Then again you get some people who say they don’t like football and prefer rugby but you can’t please everyone.

“We are not closely aligned to the World Cup and don’t expect the event to instantly bring us more business but it’s a good opportunity.”

If all else fails, there is always the option to just change allegiances.

“If England do go out then we will just back another team so punters will be following someone else,” added pub manager Kevin, ever the realist.

“I’m looking at England making the quarter-final. It will be better if they go further but I think they would struggle after that.”

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